Thai Airways must take civil action

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Thai Airways must take civil action

Limitation period “no need to extend”

The NACC advised Thai Airways to initiate civil proceedings. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The anti-corruption body has advised Thai Airways International (THAI) to file civil suits for damages caused by those involved in the Rolls-Royce corruption scandal.

The secretary general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Sansern Poljeak, said on Friday that the 20-year statute of limitations for corruption cases that took place in the first two periods involving the scandal had now expired.

However, the statute of limitations for third period cases between 2004-2005 is still in effect and THAI can still bring civil suits against those involved during that period, Sansern said.

He added that the national carrier can also ask the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to examine the money trails of those involved and freeze their assets.

Mr Sansern said there was no need for Prime Minister and head of the National Council for Peace and Order Prayut Chan-o-cha to exercise his special power under Article 44 of the provisional charter to extend the statute of limitations for these expired corruption cases, as that would cast a negative light on the country.

Sansern: Wants to follow the money trail

Mr Sansern also said that an NACC investigative group can identify who the transport minister, deputy transport minister and THAI officials were at the time of the corruption scandal that took place during the third period, although the group still cannot make a connection between them and the corruption.

The NACC panel will have to wait for more information from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before taking further action, he said.

According to a British court‘s account of the facts, the period of the scandal extends from 1991 to 2005 and involves payments totaling approximately $ 36.38 million (1.28 billion baht) to “regional intermediaries”.

Some of the money was intended for people who were “Thai state agents and employees of THAI Airways”. The scandal involved THAI’s purchase of Rolls-Royce T800 engines, according to the document.

The corruption took place over three periods. One was for the period between June 1, 1991 and June 30, 1992. Rolls-Royce agreed to pay intermediaries $ 18.8 million during the period to “influence the buying decision”.

The second period was between March 1, 1992 and March 31, 1997, when Rolls-Royce agreed to pay $ 10.38 million to middlemen.

The third period took place between April 1, 2004 and February 28, 2005. Rolls-Royce agreed to pay close to $ 7.2 million to intermediaries.

THAI opened an investigation into the corruption allegations after they were made public and the findings are expected to be announced on February 20.

Mr Sansern also said the NACC held a teleconference with the SFO on Thursday to discuss the matter.

The SFO had requested from the NACC an official written confirmation that the NACC is the main agency responsible for handling corruption cases.

The SFO has also requested that other agencies also send confirmation letters that the NACC is investigating, Sansern said, while adding that the letters should be sent to the SFO next week.

He said the questions the NACC will ask the SFO will cover who received the bribes, when and how.

Mr Sansern said that although the SFO has shown its willingness to provide information to the NACC, it has also expressed concerns that many Thai agencies are seeking information on the case. Disclosure of information about the case by various Thai agencies could affect how the SFO handles its own case, Sansern said.

Besides the NACC, the Auditor General’s Office, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, THAI and various other agencies have all formed their own teams to seek information from the SFO.

Sangsit Piriyarangsan, the dean of the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University, told a seminar that Thailand should use the mechanisms of an agreement with the UN that sets standards to fight money laundering. money and stipulates that money laundering cases do not have a statute of limitations.

Mr. Sangsit noted that the corruption case involving THAI could involve money laundering in accordance with anti-money laundering standards established by the Financial Action Task Force to resolve issues related to expired corruption cases.

Capt Kanok Thongphuek, THAI vice president in charge of human resources, said yesterday the national carrier was ready to clarify details of the complaint filed by former THAI vice president Yothin Pamornmontri.

Yothin on Thursday asked Prime Minister Prayut to invoke Article 44 of the provisional constitution to investigate the purchase of 10 Airbus A340 planes purchased by the national carrier, which have now been grounded and “left to rot” .

Mr. Yothin, a former THAI pilot, called for an investigation into the acquisition of the Airbus A340-500 and A340-600 fleet.

The deal should be investigated for its transparency and investment value, Yothin said. The airline had made the purchase even though the National Council for Economic and Social Development had opposed it.

Capt Kanok said the company was awaiting notification from the Prime Minister’s Office.

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